Things I've Said Before: MFF

Josh Thomas - live on stage, this demure kid from Brisbane lets it rip.
Things I've Said Before: MFF
Standing in the foyer of The Lithuanian Club, it was plain to see that Josh Thomas is a popular guy. The room was buzzing with eager fans, lined up from one end of the hall to the other. They were a diverse bunch too – everything from giggling teens, emo-punk boys, gangs of girls from the office and mild-mannered couples. I had no idea he was such a crowd-pleaser. I know the comedian from TV shows like Talking 'Bout Your Generation and Good News Week but I've never seen him steal the limelight in his own right. I've had a few chuckles at his material but never really keeled over in stitches. He seems like a reserved, sensitive chap who's often steam-rolled by some of the older, more vocal performers. Live on stage, this demure kid from Brisbane lets it rip. He grabs the audience's attention from the start and never lets go. His quirky, nerdy antics have the crowd cracking up, squirming in their seats, barely able to control fits of laughter. Some hardly take a breath, even when the guy isn't trying to be funny. Maybe it's something about the way he looks – no one else could shuffle on stage like a dowdy dag in front of mustard coloured drapes and wind an audience up so much. As he puts it candidly, his image may be likened to a 'retarded version' of Ellen DeGeneres, crossed with a rag doll - or a hairless, harmless geek with shaggy bed-hair and a v-neck jumper. Maybe it's the way he treads back and forward like a nervous nelly or the goofy way he carries himself, stammering into the microphone with child-like murmurs. Maybe it's the way he breaks out in fits of outrage now and then or switches persona from boy-next-door to bad-ass mother fucker. This guy has a treasure trove of quirky tales that keep you on your toes - it never gets stale or misses the mark. There's something about Josh Thomas we can all relate to – the awkward, vulnerable kid inside us all who's got something to say. His material is honest, touching and takes self-deprecation to hilarious new heights. His placid personality strikes a chord with everyone – whether he's telling tall stories about dates from hell, sexual misadventures or bladder-bursting joyrides. Some fans adore this guy so much, they can't help but snap photos of the dithering dag as he blinks and squints and stutters now and then, mocking his mother, having a go at school bullies or the homophobes who infiltrated his show at Surfers’ Paradise. It's hard not to laugh, regardless of what comes out of this guy's mouth. He just has that effect on you. It doesn't even look like he's trying to perform – I walked out not knowing whether he was kidding around or just baring his soul but I was deeply impressed nonetheless. I wasn't the only one either. A couple of blocks away, a devoted fan could be heard shouting, “Whoa, Josh Thomas” as she tossed a ciggie on the road, tripped over her heels and boarded a tram. Josh Thomas Things I've Said Before: The Lithuanian Club MELBOURNE FRINGE FESTIVAL 23 September - 11 October

James May

Monday 12 October, 2009

About the author

James May is a freelance writer of theatre, short fiction and journalism. He's had a number of short works produced and material published in magazines and anthologies.